WWF speaks out on seizure of Chinese boat illegally fishing in Galapagos

Date: August 24, 2017

Source & Author: FIS.com

Conservation organization WWF has expresssed its rejection of industrial fishing within the waters of the Galapagos Marine Reserve and the entry of non-permitted vessels to the protected area, following the recent seizure of a Chinese flagged ship loaded with species whose capture is illegal.

In a statement, WWF Ecuador director Hugo Arnal warns that these actions threaten the integrity of the ecosystems and biodiversity of this important ‘Natural Heritage World Site’, according to Unesco.

He also welcomes the action performed by the Ecuadorian Navy with the support of the Ministry of Environment in the recent capture of the Chinese vessel, which it considers shows “the country’s interest in enforcing respect towards this important marine protected area.”

The NGO points out that the images of the detained boat show that in its holds it carried shark species listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), such as the fox shark (Alopias Pelagicus) and hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini). There are also some species of the genus Carcharhinus, including probably the silky shark (Carcharhinus falciformis), which also appears in Appendix II of CITES.

“Galapagos Marine Reserve is a large breeding and repopulation area for the eastern Pacific Ocean, and fishing boats are taking advantage of what comes out of it, known as the ‘spill-over’ effect,” explains Arnal.

On the other hand, WWF highlights that the capture and seizure of the boat were made possible thanks to the electronic control and monitoring systems installed in the Galapagos by the Ecuadorian Government with the support of organizations such as WWF, Sea Shepherd, WildAid and Conservation International, to be used by the Direction of the Galapagos National Park and the Navy of Ecuador.

“This incident occurs at a time when the traceability of fishery products is being debated worldwide, discussing issues such as high sea fish transhipment by longline fishing vessels to cargo ships, which are the ones that finally take the catch to port. This activity, if not properly controlled, can become a point of entry for illegally caught fish to enter the marketing chain of legal products,” warns WWF-Ecuador director.

Given the seriousness of the infringement, Arnal considers that “it would be of the utmost importance for the authorities to verify whether or not the detained vessel is in the records of vessels authorized to operate legally in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.” And if it is not found in such records, he states that “it should be reported to the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission to be immediately included in the lists of vessels engaged in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing of this regional fisheries organization”.

The director of WWF-Ecuador said that they will request a hearing with the Chinese diplomatic delegation in Ecuador to expose and deepen the exposed statements in in the issued communiqué.

In addition, the NGO appeals to large countries with significant industrial fishing fleets, such as the People’s Republic of China, “to strengthen controls on their fishing fleets and to ensure respect for the territorial waters of smaller countries”.

WWF ensures it will continue to support the efforts of the national Government to safeguard Galapagos and preserve not only this archipelago but also all the Ecuadorian coasts.

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